Final CA Budget Cuts Gas Tax Increase, Still Nothing for Transit

2_19_09_gov_and_car.jpgGovernor Schwarzenegger Prepares to Address His Constituents via Calcars.org

Proving that a lone State Senator can wield a lot of influence when a single vote decides the state of the budget, GOP Sen. Abel Maldonado cast the last needed vote in the State Senate to pass the new state budget for the next 16 months.  Maldanado, a long-supporter of Open-Primary elections, got a concession from Democratic lawmakers that would change the way elections are conducted provided it receives the support of voters in the next election.

In other words, the passage of the budget was so important to legislative leaders, they were willing to shake-up the electoral system that put them in office in the first place.  And yet...not one legislature from Los Angeles or any other metropolis was willing to stand up for transit operating funds.  As we've already discussed, the new budget reduces the state operations subsidy for transit to $0 for the foreseeable future, which could force Metro to cut up to 160,000 hours of bus service

Streetsblog will keep an eye on what legislators show up at the inevitable service cut hearings to complain about bus cuts in their area.

To add insult to injury, the state did come through to protect gas prices as best they can.  The proposed twelve cent a gallon gas tax was removed from the final budget, with corresponding cuts promised in the prison budget.  Another typical message from Sacramento and our Greenhouse Gas hating Governor, keep the gas tax low and force transit agencies to raise fares and cut service.  The total gas tax increase that would have saved the operating subsidy would be less than half a cent increase per gallon.

Lest anyone accuse me of being too harsh on the Governor's demagogery on Greenhouse Gas, the state also postponed a ruling that would have required retrofitting some industrial vehicles to reduce their emissions.  As Mary Nichols, head of the state's Air Resource Board, told the Times, "There are people who will die because of this delay."

But at least they'll save some money on gas.